Dog Training – How Do I Get My Dog to Walk Politely Instead of Pulling on the Leash?

In my experience, no piece of equipment, leash, collar or harness will cause a dog to happily and consistently walk on a loose leash unless the dog is also trained to walk politely.

Training a dog to walk on a loose leash takes patience and time. Unlike, sit or down, walking side-by-side another living being is not a normal behavior for a dog. Dogs sit and down all the time without even being asked, but when was the last time you saw a group of dogs walking side-by-side? It does not happen.

I have found that teaching someone to train their dog to heel or walk on a loose leash is best accomplished with a professional, reward-based dog trainer demonstrating how to teach and reward the behavior and then coaching the student as the student trains their dog. Technique and attention to detail matters when teaching a dog to heel. It is not something most people master in one lesson but is critical.

FMI – How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Equipment Matters

As noted above, no tool, on its own, is going to teach a dog to walk on a loose leash. However, the following teaching aids are the ones that will be very helpful in teaching your dog to walk on a loose leash.

  • A regular 6-foot leash and a flat collar or properly fitted front-connect harness.
  • A treat bag filled with yummy treats. Wear it on the side where you want the dog.
  • A clicker or another way to mark the behavior that you want.
  • A motivated, happy and encouraging person at the other end of your dog’s

We NEVER recommend the use of any aversive such as a prong, choke, or shock collar for training or the management of a pet. These tools can cause significant physical injuries and emotional pain to a pet. They can severely damage the bond and trust between handler and dog and also have the potential to cause severe behavior problems such as aggression. Our philosophy is consistent with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG).

FMI – Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

I never recommend the use of any retractable leash if your goal is to teach your dog not to pull when walking. Retractable leashes work by keeping constant tension on the leash and thus are rewarding your dog for keeping the leash tight with every single step your dog takes. Retractable leashes also allow your dog to walk several feet in front of you, which if you want the dog at your side is counter-productive. After your dog has learned to walk loosely on a 6-feet leash, you may wish to then train them to walk on a longer leash. When in town or areas with large numbers of people, I walk my dog on a 6-foot leash; however, if we are out on a trail, away from most other people I routinely use a 15-foot leash so that my dog can explore. My dog has also been trained on this leash, and when I cue her to return to my side, she does.

When training, it is important to be able to instantly communicate with your dog to let them know the precise moment in time that they are in the exact position you want. The clicker excels at this. However, if you are not experienced with clicker training (operant conditioning), I would recommend working with a professional trainer that is, because if you click at the wrong time, or inappropriately, you may confuse your dog.

FMIDog Training – What Is Clicker Training?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

A click without a reward is the equivalent to us receiving the envelope our paycheck comes in and finding it empty. A click is a sacred promise of a reward, and the best reward for the vast majority of dogs is a treat. When teaching your dog to walk nicely by your side, you need to quickly deliver the treat in the precise position where you want the dog to be, typically the side of your leg. If you give the dog the treat in front of you, you are encouraging the dog to move out of the desired position and to cross in front of you, an accident waiting to happen. Neither you nor your dog will be happy if you trip over them and end up kissing the sidewalk.

Maintaining Focus Matters

  • Keep lessons short, 5 minutes maximum.
    • It is more productive to do three 5 minute lessons than one 15 minute lesson.
    • Remember, every time the dog is on a leash they are learning to walk politely or to pull and lunge. What they learn is up to you.

While you may feel that you need to take your dog for a 30-minute or 15-minute walk, doing so is counterproductive if they are pulling on their leash at any time during the walk. Until you have trained your dog to walk on a loose leash, limit your walks to 5 minutes, the same amount of time we would recommend for any training session. If you are concerned about exercise for your dog, play fetch with them in a fenced area.

Every step you take with the leash tight is rewarding the dog for that behavior because they get one step closer to what they want. Rewarding the behavior you do not want, could dramatically increase the amount of time it takes your dog to learn the behavior you do want.

If you are having trouble stopping when the leash goes tight, consider getting a properly fitted front-connect harness. These harnesses can be very helpful when fitted and used properly.

  • Start with stationary attention exercises (Attention/Look Behavior).

I consider the heel behavior to be an extension of what we teach as an Attention behavior. Attention is all about teaching the dog to make and maintain eye contact with us. Heel or walking politely is essentially attention while in motion. The easiest way to get your dog to focus on you while walking is first to train them to have impeccable focus while you are stationary.

FMITeaching the Attention/Look Behavior –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/dog-training-teaching-the-attention-or-look-behavior/

  • Reward your dog with treats frequently when you start teaching walking politely, don’t be stingy.
    • The timing of the treat is critical.
    • The location where the treat is delivered is critical.

When I start teaching walking politely, I treat for every step or every two steps. Being stingy with treats will not be helpful. As I noted above the timing of the click and treat and where the treat is delivered are crucial. That is why I recommend that you work with a professional dog trainer that can coach you on timing and treat delivery.

  • You must be more interesting than the environment
    • It can be tough to be more interesting when outdoors, so start by practicing inside.
    • This is a time to talk to your dog as a means to keep them focused on you.
    • Change your pace and directions frequently and erratically, so the dog needs to focus on you.
    • Working off-leash inside or in a fenced area outside is a good way to practice.

Training your dog to walk on a loose leash is all about teaching them to be aware of their position in relationship to you when walking and for you to be able to immediately get their attention and focus in very distracting environments.

There are far more distractions outdoors than there are indoors, so I recommend that you practice and master this behavior inside, before working on it outdoors.

If you are silent when walking, your dog will quickly find something more interesting than you, and you will have lost their attention. When teaching your dog to walk politely, you will need to talk to your dog. However, be careful about saying the same thing over and over again. If you keep saying their name (Sparky, Sparky, Sparky) ad infinitum, they will tune you out, just as you have probably tuned out someone who constantly nags you with the same phrase.

When I first teach a dog to walk by my side, I use a higher-pitched voice (guys you can do this!) and tell my dog stories or talk to them about my day. They are not listening to the words, but by chattering away and frequently rewarding them, I have become more or at least as equally compelling as the distractions.

Walking around the block or in a straight line has very few learning opportunities and if you walk the same route every time the dog quickly learns that they do not need to focus on you. They know where you are going. For this reason, when you start to teach this behavior I recommend that you walk erratically and unpredictably. Change directions often, so the dog is thinking “Whoa, I have no idea where they are going, I better pay attention!” You should be walking in a manner that would result in your being pulled over by the police if you were driving.

When you start practicing this outdoors, you do not need to leave your yard. Just practice in the yard and driveway. Start somewhere the dog is familiar with as there will be fewer distractions. Your neighbors may think you have lost it when they see you chattering at your dog and are not able to walk a straight line, but who cares!

I also encourage people to practice the heel behavior with the dog off leash, but ONLY if they have an appropriate space where they can do so. An appropriate area is one where the dog is safely contained and cannot place themselves in danger. Fenced yards work great! If you do not have a fenced yard but are a regular client of Green Acres Kennel Shop, you can use our training field to work with your dog off leash. However, make it easy on yourself and start in one of the two small yards.

So why practice heel with the dog off leash? It is much harder to maintain your dog in position and focused on you when the dog has the freedom to move away. The leash is a crutch for both the dog and us. When on a leash your dog does not need to look at you to be aware of where you are, and you do not need to work as hard to keep them close. By practicing this behavior with the dog off leash, you are both going to need to work harder. In my 21 plus years of teaching people how to train their dog to walk politely, I have observed a consistent pattern in those that are not successful; they are not putting enough energy into teaching this behavior. If you are doing this correctly, after five minutes you and your dog will be ready for a nice break.

Consistency Matters When Walking

  • All family members need to follow the same rules and protocol.
    • Pick a side and stick to it.
  • If the dog is on leash it is learning, and if the dog is on leash you are training – ALWAYS
    • If the leash gets tight, stop until the leash is loose – ALWAYS
    • If the dog is in the position you want and paying attention to you, reward them. – ALWAYS

If multiple members of the family walk the dog you ALL need to follow the same rules ALL of the time. You need to pick a side, left or right, and stick with it. Imagine if you were being taught to drive by two people and one person taught you to drive on the left side of the road, and the next day another person resumed the lesson by teaching you to drive on the right side of the road. Would you be confused? Very likely. We need to make it easy for our dog and stick with a side. After your dog has mastered walking on one side, then you can also teach them to walk on the other side.

It only takes one person who frequently allows the dog to pull on the leash to make training the dog take longer and even possibly to cause you to be unsuccessful. If you are connected to the dog by a leash, and you are in motion, your dog will be learning, and you should be training. If the leash gets tight, stop so that you do not reward the dog for forward motion. When the dog is back in the desired position at your side and is focused on you, reward them! While you do not need to reward your dog every step, for the rest of their life, you should be ready to reward whenever you walk your dog in a new environment or if it has been several weeks since you practiced walking politely.

Some Training Tips

  • If the dog starts to pull ahead;
    • Call their name or ask them to LOOK (Attention Behavior) and the instant they look back at you click and when they are in the position you want them to be, treat.
    • If you want them on your LEFT, turn 180 degrees to the RIGHT
      • Click the instant they are in the heel position and then treat in that position
    • If you want them on your RIGHT, turn 180 degrees to the LEFT
      • Click the instant they are in the heel position and then treat in that position

 

Walks Need to Be Fun for Both of You

If you like to walk for pleasure, and your dog is not trained, take your walk and just leave the dog at home. It is not necessary to combine your pleasure walks with the dogs training walk especially if it is frustrating for you. Your dog will very likely feed off of your frustration and become anxious or frustrated themselves. If either of your is frustrated, very little teaching or learning will occur

If you invest the time and energy in training your dog to walk politely on a leash, you will eventually walk many miles together, enjoying one another’s company. Just remember, make the walk pleasurable for your dog and give them opportunities to stop, sniff and explore because that is what your dog enjoys about your journeys together. If you do not have the time to do the latter, leave the dog home. However, make sure to schedule a time when you can take your dog for a walk that they will enjoy.

______________________________________________________________________________

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/25/dog-training-reward-based-training-versus-aversives/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Teaching the Attention/Look Behavior –  http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/04/dog-training-teaching-the-attention-or-look-behavior/

 

©27-Apr-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversives

 

< Updated 18JAN18 >

Dog training has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. While the use of aversive techniques such as choke and prong collar corrections, shock collars, alpha wolf rollovers, dominance downs, and other methods based on positive punishment and negative reinforcement were the predominant form of dog training many years ago, these methods are now considered to be both unnecessary but also counter-productive and detrimental. Many consider them to be inhumane. Dog training should be fun and that means it is pain-free, force-free, and fear-free. Dog training should be fun for both you and your dog.

Aversives and the use of force cause fear and pain, which can be physical or emotional in nature. That in turn, impairs our dog’s ability to learn, damages the bond and trust between our dog and us, and has been found to cause behavioral problems such as aggression, anxiety, and extreme stress.

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) recommend that aversives NEVER be used.

In their Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines the AAHA said this about aversives:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior.” [Emphasis added]

FMI – AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

For more on this topic, and for links to the actual position statements and references, check out the Recommended Resources section below.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

 Dog Training – How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ages – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/

Pet Behavior and Wellness – Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellnesshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/28/pet-behavior-and-wellness-pet-behavior-as-an-essential-component-to-holistic-wellness/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/04/02/yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-green-acres-kennel-shops-pet-friendly-philosophy-part-1/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The PPG – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/05/02/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-the-ppg-part-2/

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – A Veterinary Perspective – Part 3http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/30/selecting-a-pet-care-provider-yes-a-trend-towards-kinder-and-gentler-professional-pet-care-a-veterinary-perspective-part-3/

Shared Blog Post – The Double Advantage of Reward-Based Traininghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/08/05/shared-blog-post-the-double-advantage-of-reward-based-training/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Green Acres Kennel Shop’s “Pet-Friendly” Philosophy

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – The Pet Professional Guild and Force-Free Pet Care with Niki Tudge

Yes! A Trend Towards Kinder and Gentler Professional Pet Care – Fear-Free Veterinary Visits with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines – Dr. Dave Cloutier – Veazie Veterinary Clinic

Other Articles and Blogs

Choke Collar Pathology – an excellent blog post from dog trainer Daniel Antolec on the dangers of using a choke collar on a dog. – http://ppgworldservices.com/2017/06/13/choke-collar-pathology/

Web Sites

Position Statements on Animal Behavior, Training, and Care

2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

The Guiding Principles of the Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Pet Correction Deviceshttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Choke and Prong Collarshttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Shock In Animal Traininghttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Traininghttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DominanceTheoryPositionStatement/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on Puppy Socializationhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PuppySocializationPositionStatement/

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Puppy Socialization https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Puppy_Socialization_Position_Statement_Download_-_10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Positive Veterinary Carehttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Positive-Veterinary-Care-Position-Statement-download.pdf

 

Professional Pet Care Associations

The Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

The Pet Professional Accreditation Boardhttp://www.credentialingboard.com/

 

©18JAN18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Dog Training – What Training Does My Dog Need to Become a Therapy Dog?

What is a therapy dog?

A “therapy dog” is someone’s pet that is highly trained, can be easily controlled around other dogs, is very social and enjoys interacting with all ages and types of people and has been tested and certified through a recognized therapy dog organization. Typically the dog is certified with one handler, usually the dog’s owner, as a therapy dog/handler team. Once certified these teams, if invited, may visit hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, and other places for the purpose of interacting with residents of those facilities providing they maintain their certification. Unlike a service/assistance dog, a therapy dog and their handler have no special rights of access as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. You can find information on the legal definition of a service/assistance dog at http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm.

FMI – Service, Assistance, and Therapy Dogs – What is the Difference Between a Service/Assistance Dog, an Emotional Support Dog, and a Therapy Dog?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/11/22/service-assistance-and-therapy-dogs-what-is-the-difference-between-a-therapy-dog-and-a-serviceassistance-dog/

Who registers therapy dogs?

There are several therapy dog registries. Therapy Dogs International (http://www.tdi-dog.org ), PetPartners, formerly The Delta Society, (http://www.petpartners.org/ ) and Therapy Dogs Incorporated (https://www.therapydogs.com/) are three of the more well-known registries that have credentialed dogs in Maine. Each registry has its own test criteria, rules, evaluators and associated fees. Typically a dog/handler team may only be registered by one registry, and evaluators usually are only certified by one registry.  The best place to get current information on each registry’s requirements is at their respective websites.

Does a therapy dog need to pass a test to be certified?

Reputable therapy dog registries will require a dog and handler team to pass a test before their being certified. This test is necessary to protect the public, the people, the facility the dog may visit and ultimately the therapy dog/handler team. The fees paid to therapy dog registries are used in part to pay for liability insurance that protects all parties in case of an accident such as a dog bite. There are some very disreputable websites where you can register your therapy dog and get a certificate without requiring a test. These “registries” typically do not include any insurance should an accident occur. The reality is that if you and your dog are not certified by a reputable organization, you could be financially liable for any and all damages and could possibly be subject to criminal charges should something go awry during a visit.

What are the test requirements to be a therapy dog?

The test criteria for most registries are usually a superset of the American Kennel Clubs (AKC) Canine Good Citizen Test.

The following assessment is based on requirements of Therapy Dogs International.

Registries typically require that the dog be at least one year of age, is current on all vaccinations, have a veterinary health certificate and is licensed by the state before they are eligible to be tested. In my experience, most dogs are not mature enough or sufficiently trained so that they can pass the test before 18 to 24 months of age.

A dog must be able to sit, down and stay reliably when given a single visual or verbal cue. Other basic obedience behaviors involve being able to walk with their handler on a loose leash, to come when called, and to leave things when asked to leave things. Additionally, dogs should be non-reactive to any person or dog and only minimally reactive to audible and visual stimuli. When your dog is on your side, they should not move towards another dog or a person unless they have been released to do so. A dog that lunges or barks at a person or another dog during a test would be considered “not ready.”  A dog must also allow a stranger to examine their paws, their eyes and to brush them without excessive wiggling and without growling or biting. A dog that paws at or mouths people would also be deemed “not ready.”

Based on my experience as an evaluator for Therapy Dogs International, the following parts of the test are the ones that are usually the most difficult for a handler and their dog:

Reaction to Another Dog – This test demonstrates that the dog can remain under control around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 10 yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 5 yards. The dog should not show any negative reaction or pull towards the other dog. The handler should not allow the dog to visit with the demo dog. Negative reaction means a dog showing signs of disobedience, aggression or avoidance (shyness). Having an excellent attention behavior and an automatic sit can be very helpful for passing this part of the evaluation.

Reactions to Distractions (Leave-It) – This test is in two phases.  In phase one a stranger will offer the dog a treat. The dog must ignore the food.  In phase 2, the handler, with the dog on a loose leash, walks past food on the ground (placed within a distance of three feet) and, upon command, the dog should ignore the food. If the handler spots the food, a command of leave it can be given and the dog is not permitted to pick up the food. If the handler does not see the food and consequently does not give a command, he or she is not scouting adequately. If the dog gets the food, they fail the test. As scavengers, dogs have a natural instinct to check out food. An excellent attention or leave-it behavior will help a dog pass this test.

Supervised Separation – This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with another person, typically a stranger, and will maintain its training and good manners. The owner will go out of site for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not bark, whine, or pull away from the person holding the leash. Dogs need to be well socialized and comfortable around all types of people, including strangers, to pass this part of the test. This is not so much a training issue as one of helping your dog learn to cope emotionally with being left with someone new in your absence. Lots of gradual practice is essential to passing this part of the test.

Visiting with a Patient – The TDI Certified Evaluator will test the willingness of each dog to visit a person and ascertain that the dog can be made readily accessible for petting (i.e. small dogs can be placed on a person’s lap or can be held, medium and larger dogs can sit on a chair or stand close to the patient to be easily reached.). Shyness, aggressiveness, jumping up, and not wanting to visit are reasons for automatic failure. The evaluator should be looking for a dog that willing approaches and obviously wants to interact in a friendly manner yet, is not rambunctious. If a dog does not have an outgoing personality and is not interested in meeting people they may be able to pass the test but may not enjoy doing therapy work; asking such a dog to be part of a therapy dog/handler team is unfair. Dogs that have been trained to shake or do other things with their paws often fail this part of the test because they initiate contact with their paws without being cued to do so. For a patient taking blood thinning medicine in a nursing home or hospital, the risk of a scratch from a nail can be very serious. Thus all pawing behavior should be discouraged.

Walking on a Loose Leash – Your dog’s ability to be under control while on a leash is tested throughout various parts of the TDI test. The dog must be wearing either a flat buckle or snap-in collar (non-corrective) or a harness (non-corrective). Pulling on the leash, jumping up, shyness, not wanting to visit, showing aggressiveness, not walking on a loose leash are all automatic failures. There must always be slack in the leash.

How can I get my dog prepared to pass the test?

If you have a young puppy and your hope is to someday become a therapy dog and handler team, the most critical thing you can do is to socialize, not overwhelm, your puppy in a positive manner before they are 16 weeks of age. Getting them accustomed to crutches, wheelchairs, different noises and flooring is crucial. Always keep in mind, however, that even if you do everything right, this does not necessarily mean that your dog will be cut out to be a therapy dog.

FMI – Puppy Socialization and Habituationhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/27/dog-behavior-puppy-socialization-and-habituation/

From a training perspective you are not required to take any classes or even to train your dog in order to take a therapy dog test; however, there is no question that enrolling yourself and your dog in reward-based training classes is very beneficial. It is rare that a dog and handler team that do not take formal training class will pass an evaluation.  Typically a person would complete several dog training classes before they and their dog would be ready to take the test. For example, if you are starting with a young puppy, the optimal choice would be to go through Puppy Headstart, Basic Manners, and all upper-level classes, maybe more than once. A class taught by someone who is familiar with the test is one of the best ways to prepare.

FMI – How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

What happens if my dog and I do not pass the test?

If you and your dog take the test and you are not ready, you can usually take the test again. Most evaluators will suggest what you need to work on, although they do not necessarily offer advice on how to train your dog to do better. Also, if an evaluator has concerns about your dog’s basic temperament, they may suggest other activities instead of therapy work. The fact is, not all dogs are suitable for being therapy dogs; that does not mean they are not great dogs.

What happens after my dog and I pass the test?

Once a dog and handler have passed a test, they must then register with the therapy dog registry before they are considered certified. This typically involves submitting current veterinary records along with your application. One of the main benefits of registering, which is typically done annually and involves a fee, is the liability insurance that comes with the registration. If your dog were to hurt someone while working as a therapy dog, you would typically have some coverage. If your dog is not appropriately registered, you may be personally financially and legally liable for your dog’s behavior and subsequent actions. Institutions should require that you provide proof of registration and proof of insurance before allowing you and your dog to visit with people at the facility. Their failure to do so does not necessarily remove or limit your liability.

On a personal note, I always advise people that some dogs that can pass the test may not enjoy doing therapy work. Your first responsibility is to your dog, not to the people you visit. If your dog does not enjoy therapy dog work or later shows signs that they no longer enjoy the work, it is time to stop.  Shed, one of our dogs, was certified with my wife, Paula, as her handler. Paula took Shed on one visit, and although she was a real sweetheart, she clearly did not enjoy meeting and interacting with strangers. She retired after one visit. My dog Tikken and I did therapy work for a few years, but then one day she hesitated as we were entering one of the nursing homes we visited. When she did that I second time I knew she was ready to retire and I allowed her to do so.

So after we are registered, how do we get started doing therapy work?

If you wish to visit healthcare facilities as a therapy dog/handler team, you should contact the facility ahead of time rather than just showing up with your dog. Typically it would be the activities director or volunteer director you will need to connect with to schedule your visits. Most facilities will need to see proof that you and your dog are certified and have insurance. They may also require that you go through their volunteer training program due to laws covering patient privacy and confidentiality.

Most registries require that you reregister and pay an annual fee to keep your certification and insurance current. Some may also require that you take the test again.

When is a therapy dog/handler team considered to be working?

Typically, a dog/therapy team is usually only considered to be working as a therapy team when; 1) they are with the certified handler, 2) they are volunteering their time, and 3) they are on a leash connected to the handler. If your spouse or partner is certified with your dog and you are not, the dog would not be considered to be a therapy dog when working with you. Most registries do not cover your dog when they are at your home or if you have your dog at your place of employment. If you are a mental health professional and want to use a therapy dog as part of your practice, you should check with your employer and your personal insurance provider to make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Likewise, if your dog were to bite someone in your home, it is doubtful that you would be covered by the registries liability insurance. Lastly, if you are not holding the leash and something happens, you may not be covered by the registries insurance.

What if I do not have a dog but want to get one so we can become a therapy dog/handler team?

Not every dog is going to be able to pass the test to become the canine half of a therapy dog/handler team, so selecting the right dog will be very important in increasing the odds that your dog will pass. I strongly encourage you to work with a certified professional dog trainer that is familiar with the test criteria who can offer objective advice. In my opinion, that means that they have absolutely no financial interest in your purchasing a dog or a puppy. Any organization or individual that is trying to sell you a dog may not always be as objective as possible about a dog’s potential for becoming a therapy dog. While puppy temperament tests have their place, there is no research that supports that they are predictive of a dog’s future suitability for therapy work. Nor does getting a puppy whose parents were therapy dogs guarantee that the puppy will pass a test at a future date. No one can guarantee that a dog will be suitable for therapy dog work.

FMI – Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

Research studies have demonstrated that if either parent is shy or timid, the puppies will be timid. Shyness or timidity is very likely to make a dog unsuitable for therapy dog work. Either the dog will find the work very stressful or will not be able to pass the test. Another major factor in a dog’s suitability will be their environment and training that occurs during their critical socialization period which occurs between eight and sixteen weeks of age. A certified professional dog trainer can be of great assistance in helping you develop a socialization and habituation plan for this period that optimizes a puppy’s odds of being good therapy dog material.

I believe that you will have the best probability of passing the test by getting a puppy that you socialize and train yourself with therapy work in mind. A dog’s temperament, a key factor in their suitability for therapy dog work, is determined in part by genetics. When choosing a puppy, you will want to meet the parents so you can assess their temperament. If you do not have experience in this area, you would be advised to work with a certified professional dog trainer or certified dog behavior consultant who has experience in this area. They will not be able to guarantee that a puppy will pass a future therapy test, but they may be able to indicate that a puppy would be unlikely to pass a test.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Service, Assistance and Therapy Dogs – What is the Difference Between a Service/Assistance Dog, an Emotional Support Dog, and a Therapy Dog?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/11/22/service-assistance-and-therapy-dogs-what-is-the-difference-between-a-therapy-dog-and-a-serviceassistance-dog/

Puppy Socialization and Habituationhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/27/dog-behavior-puppy-socialization-and-habituation/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

 

Web Sites

Therapy Dogs International  – (http://www.tdi-dog.org )

PetPartners, formerly The Delta Society –  (http://www.petpartners.org/ )

Therapy Dogs Incorporated  – (https://www.therapydogs.com/)

 

©10APR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. – What do I do?

< A version of this article was published in the April 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 5MAY18 >

Step one – Know that you are not alone. I receive several calls per week from people that are concerned about the manner in which their dog is behaving towards them, other people, other dogs, other animals, or maybe some combination of things. Aggression, reactivity, fear, and anxiety are all on a continuum of behaviors and the primary reason I see dogs for behavior consultations. Fear is almost always the direct cause or a major factor in aggression and reactivity. Previously in this column, I have discussed the 2015 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines which reported that “Behavioral problems affect more dogs and cats than any other medical condition and are one of the most common causes of euthanasia, relinquishment, or abandonment of pets.” You are not alone.

Step two – Act Now!! Accept that behavioral issues will not go away on their own nor will your dog outgrow them. Commit to act NOW! Understand that these matters are every bit as traumatic to your dog as they are to you. You are both suffering. Delaying action is only likely to make the resolution of these issues harder and in all probability take longer.

Step three – Learn to recognize the signs of fear in your dog and act to remove them from fearful situations. Most dogs communicate when they become nervous and afraid through their body language long before they vocalize or act. If you know these signs, you can get your dog out of a situation that will cause them to become more anxious. < FMI – How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful?http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear >

Step four – Stop the use of force, fear, and pain. Immediately stop the use of any and all aversives for the management and training of your dog. Common aversives include but are not limited to; prong, pinch, choke, or shock collars, alpha rolls, squirt bottles, and the entire dominance/alpha construct. Aversives impair our dog’s ability to learn, damage the human-dog bond and trust, and often result in an emotional outburst resulting in the very behavior problems you wish to resolve. The AAHA guidelines categorically oppose the use of aversive techniques. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) also oppose the use of aversives in training and behavior modification. < FMI – Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive >

Step five – Talk to your veterinarian. If you have not already done so, make an appointment with your veterinarian to have a detailed discussion about your dog’s behavioral issues. Aggression can be caused by many medical problems. Pain, neurological disorders, tumors, thyroid disease and other hormone-related problems, and even an adverse reaction to a vaccine can cause aggression. Any medical issues related to your dog’s behavior need to be identified and resolved if you wish the behavior to change.

Step six – Seek help from a behavior professional. If your veterinarian determines that your dog’s behavioral issues are not the result of a medical problem, seek the advice of a professional animal behavior specialist, someone who understands canine behavior, ethology and behavior modification. Do not try to resolve this issue on your own or based on what someone tells you on Facebook. It is unlikely that you will be successful and you may, in fact, may make the problem worse and harder to resolve.

Behavior modification is not the same as dog training. Dog training is about teaching your dog to offer a particular action when given a cue. Behavior modification is about changing your dog’s emotional response to a stimulus. Aggression and reactivity are emotional responses typically based on fear or anger. Making your dog sit when a stranger approaches is very unlikely to make your dog less afraid or angry, but in fact, may make your dog feel more threatened. Behavior modification is about helping your dog develop a positive emotional response instead of barking, growling, lunging, or cowering.

There are three levels of professionals that specialize in assisting pets with behavioral problems.   Certified Dog Behavior Consultants (CDBC) and Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultants (ACDBC) credentialed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) are qualified to work with most behavior problems. Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB) and Associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (ACAAB) accredited by the Animal Behavior Society work with more advanced behavior problems. Diplomats of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (DACVB), who are credentialed by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, are veterinarians with advanced training in behavior. They are skilled in dealing with the most dangerous behavior problems using both behavior modification therapy and medications.

Step seven – Be patient. While an undesirable behavior such as reactivity towards strangers can be created in a single event, it will likely take a significant amount of time and effort to change your dog’s behavior. Our brains and our dog’s brains work much the same. If we are exposed to something we perceive as dangerous or frightening, we are genetically preprogrammed to remember that for life. It is all about our instinctual motivation to survive. To successfully reprogram the brain can take weeks and even months of carefully planned desensitization and counterconditioning. It is human nature, especially in today’s culture to be impatient and to want instant results. That is not how behavior modification works. Be patient.

It can be very frustrating when our dog behaves anxiously or aggressively, or anywhere between these two emotional responses. Dog trainer Nancy Tanner posted an article on her blog entitled the misunderstanding of time. I encourage you to read it, and then place it somewhere you can find it quickly so that you can reread it anytime you are feeling frustrated or become impatient with your dog. < FMI – Shared Blog Post – the misunderstanding of time by Nancy Tannerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/11/16/shared-blog-post-the-misunderstanding-of-time-by-nancy-tanner/ >


Green Acres Kennel Shop offers a monthly Help! My Dog is Aggressive, Reactive, Fearful, Anxious, etc. seminar. At the workshop, for people only,  Don will discuss behavioral issues in general terms; he will need to see you and your pet individually to offer specific behavioral programs designed for your particular dog. You will gain some general strategies that you can begin using immediately. Topics covered include; common myths about dog behavior, the common causes of aggression and reactivity, and their underlying emotions. An overview of canine body language will be addressed, so you are better able to identify when your pet is feeling stressed before they start reacting. FMI – call 945-6841 or go to – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/behavior-counseling


Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

How Can I Tell When My Dog Is Anxious or Fearful?http://bit.ly/DogsSignsofFear

Dog Training – Reward Based Training versus Aversiveshttp://bit.ly/RewardVSAversive

Shared Blog Post – the misunderstanding of time by Nancy Tannerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/11/16/shared-blog-post-the-misunderstanding-of-time-by-nancy-tanner/

What Is A Pet Behavior Consultant? – http://bit.ly/WhatIsPetBhxConsulting

Pet Behavior as an Essential Component to Holistic Wellness http://bit.ly/PetBhxWellness

Introduction to Canine Communication http://bit.ly/CanineComm

Dominance: Reality or Myth http://bit.ly/Dominance-RealityorMyth

Understanding, Identifying and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://bit.ly/Canine-Stress

Canine Behavior – Myths and Facts – Part 1, Where do we get our knowledge about dogs? – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/05/04/canine-behavior-myths-and-facts-part-1-where-do-we-get-our-knowledge-about-dogs/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogs – http://bit.ly/GAKS-Pos-NoPain-NoForceNoFear

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collars – http://bit.ly/ShockCollars

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Canine Behavior: Myths & Facts – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/27/podcast-canine-behavior-myths-and-facts/

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinichttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/13/podcast-the-woof-meow-show-pet-behavior-vets-the-aaha-canine-and-feline-behavior-management-guidelines-with-dr-dave-cloutier-from-veazie-veterinary-clinic/

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/07/27/blog-post-27jul15-podcast-dog-training-questions-for-don-and-kate-with-special-guest-host-dr-mark-hanks-part-3/

Handouts to Download

Dr. Sophia Yin – Body Language of Fear in Dogs – http://info.drsophiayin.com/free-poster-on-body-language-in-dogs

Dr. Sophia Yin – How To Greet A Dog and What to Avoid – https://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/preventing-dog-bites-by-learning-to-greet-dogs-properly/

Dr. Sophia Yin – Canine Bite Levelshttp://info.drsophiayin.com/download-the-bite-levels-poster

Web Sites

2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelineshttps://www.aaha.org/professional/resources/behavior_management_guidelines.aspx

The Guiding Principles of the Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PPGs-Guiding-Principles

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Pet Correction Deviceshttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/Equipment-Used-for-the-Management-Training-and-Care-of-Pets

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Choke and Prong Collarshttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/chokeandprongcollarpositionstatement/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Shock In Animal Traininghttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/shockcollars/

The Pet Professional Guild Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Traininghttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/DominanceTheoryPositionStatement/

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory in Behavior Modification of Animals – https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Dominance_Position_Statement_download-10-3-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on The Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in Animals https://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Punishment_Position_Statement-download_-_10-6-14.pdf

American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) Position Statement on Positive Veterinary Carehttps://avsab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Positive-Veterinary-Care-Position-Statement-download.pdf

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (http://www.greenacreskennel.com/) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at http://www.greenacreskennel.com/woof-meow-show/the-woof-meow-show.html. Don also writes about pets at his blog: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/about-the-blog-words-woofs-and-meows/.

©5MAY18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)! – part 2

< Updated 10MAR18 >

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

<A companion piece to this podcast was published in the March 2017 edition of Downeast Dog NewsAdopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!>

If you have a puppy or dog selected, or are thinking about getting a canine companion, this show will help you prepare for your new dog.

This episode of The Woof Meow Show from March 11th, 2017, and part 1 of this show, which aired on March 4th, are companion shows to our January 14th and 21st shows entitled Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family. Kate and Don discuss what you need to be thinking about before you bring your new friend home.

In this episode we focus on the most critical puppy behaviors; housetraining, jumping up, play biting, and chewing. These four issues, plus socialization and habituation, which we covered in last weeks, show, are far more important than teaching your puppy to sit or shake. Start working on all of these issues with a qualified professional dog trainer from day one. <How to choose a dog trainer>.

.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

 

We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/03/04/adopting-a-pet-were-getting-a-new-puppy-or-dog/

Finding the right dog for you and your familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Housetraininghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/02/16/housetraining/

Chewinghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/15/dog-training-chewing/

Biting and Bite Thresholdshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2012/01/16/dog-training-biting-and-bite-thresholds/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)! – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/03/04/podcast-were-getting-a-new-puppy-or-dog-part-1/

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-14Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-1.mp3

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-21Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-2.mp3

How to choose a dog trainer – http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-07How_to_Choose_A_Dog_Trainer.mp3

The Importance of Training Your Dog and 2018 Classes at Green Acres – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/12/10/podcast-the-importance-of-training-your-dog-and-2018-classes-at-green-acres/

 

 

©10MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)! – part 1

< Updated 10MAR18 >

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

<A companion piece to this podcast was published in the March 2017 edition of Downeast Dog NewsAdopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!>

If you have a puppy or dog selected, or are thinking about getting a canine companion, this show will help you prepare for your new dog.

This episode of The Woof Meow Show on March 4th, 2017, and part 2 of this show, which will air on March 11th, are companion shows to our January 14th and 21st shows entitled Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family. Kate and Don discuss what you need to be thinking about before you bring your new friend home. They start off by talking about your attitude and the need for patience. Don and Kate also emphasize the need for you to have the time to raise a puppy, especially during the puppy’s critical development stages. They discuss the importance and necessity of selecting a veterinarian, a groomer, and a trainer before you bring the dog home. (How to choose a dog trainer). They also discuss supplies you need (baby gates, collars, leashes, ID tags, ID microchips, water bowls, food bowls, toys, and chewies,).

Pet food and treats are addressed in the second segment of the show. Don and Kate explain why it is important to do your research and become an educated consumer. You will get lots of recommendations as to what to feed your new dog and you need to recognize most of this information is biased because the person recommending it gains financially if you purchase it. That includes breeders, veterinarians, animal shelters, rescues and even Don and Kate at Green Acres. (Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog?)

In the last segment of the show, Kate and Don discuss socialization and habituation (Puppy Socialization and Habituation) which is far more important than teaching your puppy to shake or sit. They explain the critical period when this needs to occur and what the typical puppy needs to be exposed to before they are sixteen weeks of age.

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 9 AM on Saturday. If you are not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to Listen to Podcast >

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Finding the right dog for you and your familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-14Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-1.mp3

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-21Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-2.mp3

How to choose a dog trainer – http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-07How_to_Choose_A_Dog_Trainer.mp3

The Importance of Training Your Dog and 2018 Classes at Green Acres – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/12/10/podcast-the-importance-of-training-your-dog-and-2018-classes-at-green-acres/

 

©10MAR18, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Adopting A Pet – We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!

< A version of this article was published in the
March 2017 issue of Downeast Dog News>

<  UPDATED – 3SEP17 >

We’re Getting A New Puppy (or Dog)!

Prior Planning Makes for Success

By Don Hanson, ACCBC, BFRAP, CDBC, CPDT-KA

In January Kate and I did a two-part series on The Woof Meow Show (woofmeowshow.com) about finding the right dog for you and your family. You can read a companion article and get a link to the podcast here (Finding the right dog for you and your family). This column discusses what to do after you have found your dog but before you bring them home.

Adjust your schedule and priorities – Your new puppy is going to need significant time from you, especially during the first few months. A puppy has a key developmental period between eight to sixteen weeks of age, during which certain things need to happen if you want a well-adjusted puppy. This is not something you can postpone until you have time. Block off time in your daily schedule for your pup now, and stick to your commitment. Get other family members to pledge to do their part as well. It takes a family to raise a puppy.

Learn to accept, laugh and relax and ALWAYS be kind –   Your attitude and emotions will be a big factor in your pups happiness and readiness to bond with you. Trust me, dogs read us better than many of our closest human friends, and if you become angry with your dog, it will damage your relationship. Understand that a new dog, whether a puppy, a senior or anything in between, will need you to be patient and understanding. Accept the fact that both you and your dog will find one another frustrating at times. Rather than get mad, laugh and relax. Dogs like kind people with a good sense of humor.

Determine how you will handle your puppy’s housetraining – Your puppy will not housetrain themselves and will need someone present to take them out several times during the day. This need will continue for the first few months of their life. A rule of thumb for how many hours a puppy can “hold it” is their age in months plus one. For example, a four-month-old puppy will be able to “hold it” for five hours, at most. If you work all day long, you need a plan now, if you want your pup to become housetrained. Leaving a puppy in a room or an X-Pen while you are gone is just rewarding them for going to the bathroom inside, which will make training them to go outside take that much longer. If you cannot be there for your puppy, consider hiring a friend or family member to help you.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian for your puppy for the second day they are with you – No matter where you get your puppy, even if it is from your most trusted friend, take them to your veterinarian for their first wellness exam within twenty-four hours of your bringing them home. Make this appointment well in advance, so you are not delayed because your veterinarian’s schedule is booked.

Consider pet insurance – If you want to protect yourself against future major expenses, the time to consider pet insurance is when your dog is young, as it does not cover preexisting conditions. I recently had a client who adopted a new puppy that was diagnosed with a heart condition at their first appointment. While this is rare, it can happen. There are many pet insurance options available, so do your research.

Select a qualified trainer and enroll you and your puppy in a Puppy Headstart class – Do this now, before you have the puppy, so that you can make sure there is room in the class when your puppy arrives. Every dog will benefit from training, as will you, and the relationship between you and your dog. Developmentally, a puppy will benefit starting in class when they are eight to nine weeks of age, definitely before 16 weeks of age, when socialization windows close. A well-designed puppy class will focus on important issues like; socialization and habituation, housetraining, play biting, jumping up on people, and chewing. These are vastly more important at this stage than working on things like sit and shake. Working with a professional, certified, reward-based dog trainer can greatly simplify your life.

  • If you enroll in class, you are more likely to train your dog,
  • a trainer can answer your questions as they come up, and
  • a trainer can teach you how to avoid unintentionally training behaviors you do not want.

Do not just choose a trainer solely based on location, convenience or price. Training is an unregulated profession, and not all trainers are created equal. (How to choose a dog trainer)

Purchase Basic Supplies – You will need some basic supplies for your puppy. Minimally, these include a crate, a leash, a collar, an ID tag, food and water bowls, and toys.

Purchase Food and Treats – What you feed your pet and use for treats is a big decision, which can have significant effects on your puppy’s health. I believe that quality nutrition is the key to health and a long life. Be skeptical of television ads for pet food. The pet foods that you most often see advertised on TV are currently facing a lawsuit for misleading advertising. Avoid anyone suggesting that one and only one food is the best food for all pets. Recognize that breeders, veterinarians, pet stores, shelters; and others trying to sell you food, have a bias. Either commit to learning about pet nutrition, or find someone you can trust to help you.

Find a groomer – Not all dogs will need a professional groomer for their coat, but unless you plan on trimming your dog’s nails on your own, you will need the services of a professional groomer every four to six weeks. If you have a long-haired dog; Poodle, Doodle, Sheltie, etc., you will want your dog to start to become familiar with the grooming process between 8 and 16 weeks of age. I suggest a minimum of two to three visits to the groomer during this period, not for a full grooming, but just to have some “happy time” with the groomer and for your dog to become habituated to the process.

Have fun and enjoy your new companion – If you think I have made raising a puppy sound like lots of work that is because it is. However, the more you know and plan ahead of time the easier it is. The investment you make in your puppy will be paid back in fun and companionship.

 

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Finding the right dog for you and your familyhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/16/adopting-a-pet-finding-the-right-dog-for-you-and-your-family/

How to choose a dog trainerhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Does My Dogs Breed Matter? – Parts 1, 2 & 3http://bit.ly/DoesDogBreedMatter

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-14Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-1.mp3

Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-21Finding_the_Right_Dog_for_You_and_Your_FamilyPart-2.mp3

How to choose a dog trainer – http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow-2017-01-07How_to_Choose_A_Dog_Trainer.mp3

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/12/12/podcast-the-benefits-of-training-your-dog-and-2017-training-classes-at-green-acres/

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©4MAR17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
<Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

What Is Dog Training?

< A version of this article was published in the February 2017 issue of Down East Dog News>

If you were to ask three people to define dog training, you would probably get as many different answers, even if those people were professional dog trainers. The fact is individuals have various views on what training a dog entails. Some believe training is only for competition or working dogs and is not necessary for a pet, or companion dog. Others see training as nothing more than teaching a dog to sit and walk nicely on a leash. In my mind, dog training entails everything we need to do to ensure that our dogs can be included in our lives as much as possible and that they can have a long, enjoyable life free of fear, force, and pain.

For years our definition of dog training at Green Acres has been “Dog training is a process where we motivate our dog to offer a specific behavior when given a specific cue while having fun.” As I look at that definition today, I recognize that while accurate, it is incomplete, only addressing a small part of what training entails.

In my estimation a complete description of dog training would be:

“Dog training is a process where we teach our dog not only to respond reliably to cues but to live free of fear in a human-centric world. Training also involves managing the dog and its environment to prevent behaviors we dislike. As we get to know our dog we need to learn to accept them for the unique individual that they are. To optimize our dog’s ability to learn, we create teaching scenarios where they are setup to succeed and are motivated to offer behaviors we like. We reward them for desirable behavior, eventually teaching them to perform a specific behavior when given a particular cue, all while having fun. All of this is accomplished without the use of pain, force, fear or intimidation.”

First and foremost is the importance of recognizing that training a dog is a process made up of many steps that all take time. The length of time will depend upon several factors, including the dog, the environment and the handler. Typically the trainer that is the most patient will be the most successful and will have the happiest dog.

Equally critical is the acceptance and appreciation of dogs as a unique species with very different needs and understandings about what constitutes normal and acceptable social interactions. When dogs enter into our families, we have a responsibility to help them learn to live in our homes as well as our hectic world, free of fear and anxiety. That starts with socialization and habituation with a young puppy and may involve months of gentle, tolerant rehabilitation with a rescue dog.

Managing a dog to prevent undesirable behavior is just as much a part of the training process as teaching a dog to perform the desired behaviors. From a behavioral perspective, the more a behavior is practiced and rewarded the stronger the behavior will become, whether we like it or not, prevention is critical.

The actual act of training a dog requires certain skills and knowledge. There are as many ways to train dogs as there are to teach children arithmetic. Taking the time to acquire this knowledge and these skills and then consistently implementing them can make the training process go much more smoothly and quickly. This allows for the effective and humane teaching of our dog’s certain behaviors they need to know to be successful in our human world. One of the best ways to acquire these skills and knowledge is to work with a certified, professional dog trainer. Read “How to choose a dog trainer.” for tips on what to look for in a professional dog trainer.

Last but certainly not least, make sure the training process is fun and enjoyable for all.  Isn’t companionship one of the major reasons humans choose to have dogs in their lives? Studies and common sense tell us that if we enjoy something, like training the dog, we are more likely to do it and more likely to be successful.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

How to choose a dog trainer – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/01/08/how-to-choose-a-dog-trainer/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on Pet-Friendly, Force-Free Pet Carehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2006/02/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-statement-on-pet-friendly-force-free-pet-care/

Green Acres Kennel Shop Position Statement on the Use of Dominance and Punishment for the Training and Behavior Modification of Dogshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2010/07/01/no-pain-no-force-no-fear-green-acres-kennel-shop-position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs/

How science and reward-based training have pulled dog training out of the dark ageshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/21/dog-training-how-science-and-reward-based-training-have-pulled-dog-training-out-of-the-dark-ages/

Dog Training: A Holistic Approach to Dog Training (Parts 1 & 2) http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/02/01/dogs-dog-training-a-holistic-approach-to-dog-training-parts-1-2/

Dog Training – What Is Clicker Training?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2007/02/01/dog-training-what-is-clicker-training/

Dog Behavior – Dominance: Reality or Myth – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 1 http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/02/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-1-knowledge-relationship-management-training/

Dog Training – The Four Essentials For A Great Dog – Part 2 http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/02/28/dog-training-the-four-essentials-for-a-great-dog-part-2/

A Rescue Dogs Perspective to Dog Traininghttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Canine Behavior – Understanding, Identifying, and Coping with Canine Stresshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/01/canine-behavior-understanding-identifying-and-coping-with-canine-stress/

The Unintended Consequences of Shock Collarshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/05/dogs-the-unintended-consequences-of-shock-collar/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – How to choose a dog trainer – Kate, and Don discuss what to look for when choosing a dog trainer and dog training class, as well as what to avoid. Dog training and recommended approaches to training a dog have changed dramatically as we have learned more about canines. As a result, we now know that some long-standing methods used to train a dog in the past, are in fact detrimental and can cause serious, long-term harm to your dog. Learn what to look for so that you and your dog have the best experience possible.

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – Kate and Don discuss why training a dog is so beneficial to all involved; the dog, the dog’s immediate family, and society in general. They discuss the advantages of working with a certified professional dog trainer so that you have someone that can coach both you and your dog when things are not going as expected. Additionally, they discuss why choosing a trainer that is committed to pain-free, force-free and fear-free training is so important. Lastly, they discuss the training classes that will be offered at Green Acres Kennel Shop in 2017.

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – In this week’s show Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” Tune in and learn why behavior is so important and why a behavioral assessment should be part of every pet’s annual wellness exam.

Dr. Cloutier, Kate, and Don discuss reasons for an increase in behavior problems, and how these problems can best be addressed. Dr. Cloutier explains changes he and his colleagues have made to work towards free-free visits for their clients. We address serious behavioral problems such as separation anxiety and aggression as well as nuisance behaviors like jumping, barking, and counter surfing. We address how veterinarians and dog trainers can work together and why it is essential to focus on rewarding desired behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. Lastly, we review the guidelines recommendations on refraining from using any training methods that use aversive techniques such as electronic shock collars, choke collars, prong collars, alpha-rollovers, and other things that work by causing fear, intimidation, force, discomfort or pain.

Canine Behavior: Myths and Facts – This is a follow-up to our show of March 12 when Kate and Don discussed the AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic. In that show, we discussed how behavior issues have become a significant issue and how many of those behavior problems have been caused, at least in part, by people’s misconceptions about canine behavior. This week we examine what people think they know about dogs and where that information is coming from and how reliable it is as a source of facts. We then discuss several myths about canine behavior and counter them with what science has shown to be the facts.

Myths examined include:  dogs are wolves, dogs are pack animals, people must be dominant, or Alpha over their dog, punishment and aversive tools are necessary to train a dog, dogs should work for praise alone, growls are bad, all dogs like all other dogs, crate training a dog is cruel, all dogs need a job, getting a second dog solves behavior problems, dogs do things to get revenge, dogs know right from wrong, and dogs and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Facts that we bring to light include: dogs respond very well to benevolent leadership, dogs benefit from training, food rewards work very well for training, wolf packs are about families cooperating, dogs only form loose association with other dogs,  growls are a beneficial way for a dog to communicate that they are feeling threatened, you are not a bad owner if you do not take your dog to daycare or the dog park, dogs are den animals and hence most love their crates, dogs need both mental and physical stimulation, behavior problems can be contagious, dogs know safe from dangerous, and dogs and kids are lots of work.

The Four Essentials to A Great DogDon and Kate discuss the four essentials to a great dog. In their experience most great dogs are the result of time and effort by both the person and the dog, which is exactly what that they teach students in Green Acres Kennel Shop’s Basic Manners classes. The four essentials are; Knowledge, Relationship, Management, and Training. Tune in and learn how you and your dog can become a great team and best friends for life.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 1 – Dr. Hanks interviews Don and Kate about their experiences as professional dog trainers. He asks Kate and Don about how training has changed in the past 26 years since Mark began his practice, why training a dog is important, the importance of training for mental enrichment, how breed effects training and compatibility with a family, how human intervention has adversely effected health and behavior, researching dogs before one decides what dog and breed to get, making temperament a key decision when picking a dog, what we typically teach a client and their dog, Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training), inadvertent reinforcement of undesirable behaviors, the continuing necessity to refute antiquated and inaccurate myths about canine behavior, the optimal age for starting training,  the structure of Green Acres training classes, Green Acres program to help parents find the best pet for them, how family lifestyles have changed and how that affects time for a dog, knowing when to wait before starting a group training class, and how they deal with special needs rescue dogs.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 2 – Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: Green Acres holistic approach to training (husbandry, nutrition, body language, ethology, and training) and how we work with families to understand their dog and the importance of having a good foundation of education so people can better understand their dogs, how some students may attend class without their dog either because their dog is sick, in heat or simply because the dog learns better at home, private training options at Green Acres, the critical period of puppy socialization and habituation, why socialization needs to be actively planned and implemented by owners – it doesn’t just happen, what do you do you when want your puppy to be a therapy dog, the difference between therapy dogs, service/assistance dogs, and emotional support dogs, the fake service dog epidemic, can you teach an old dog new tricks, how do you deal with constant barking, and how do you deal with clients that need the dogs behavior changed tomorrow.

Dog Training Questions for Don and Kate with special guest host Dr. Mark Hanks – part 3 – Dr. Hanks asks Kate and Don about: dominance, pack hierarchy and alphas and the current science which indicates wolves are a cooperative social species, the benefits of kind leadership as opposed to coercive based leadership, the myth of dogs doing things just to please us, temperament and personality in dogs, the importance of knowing parents because of the genetic role in temperament, “stubborn” dogs versus under-motivated dogs, epigenetics and the possibility of mental health disorders in dogs like autism and PTSD, and temperament as a continuum and nature versus nurture.

The Dominance and Alpha Myth – Don and Kate discuss the concept of dominance, alpha dogs, pack hierarchy, and how this whole construct is a myth with both dogs and wolves that are not supported by science. They discuss how this has led to a punishment and compulsion based system of dog training which is not only unnecessary but is often counterproductive. They discuss the importance of leadership, boundaries, management and the use of reward-based training as a smart alternative to the dominance approach. You can learn more by reading these articles: http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/06/20/dog-behavior-dominance-reality-or-myth/ and http://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-behavior-and-training/position-on-the-use-of-dominance-and-punishment-for-the-training-and-behavior-modification-of-dogs
First Air Date: 21MAR10

 

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©05FEB17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Adopting A Pet – Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family

<Updated 8FEB17>

You can listen to two podcasts on this topic by clicking on the links below.

<Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 1>

<Finding the Right Dog for You and Your Family – Part 2>


I love dogs. That is one of the reasons why my wife and I decided to get into the pet care business over 21 years ago. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing a family get a new dog and watching them bond and grow old together. However, that does not happen automatically. Dogs can make wonderful companions, but not every dog is the right dog for every person or family. Finding the right fit takes time and work, something that does not happen when you get a dog or puppy on impulse. The odds are your dog will be with you longer than you have your car. It is worth taking the time to do it right.

In my business, I see thousands of dogs every year, and I know that some of them, as happy as their family is with them, would not be the right dog for me. Sadly I also see some dogs and families that are terrible mismatches; neither dog nor people are enjoying the relationship. That is why I like to sit down with people and help them learn how to find the right dog and the right source for a dog so that the dog and their family have a wonderful life-long relationship.

This article is something we provide to people when they come in for one of our FREE consultations. You are welcome to use it without the consultation, but I would encourage you to give us a call (945-6841) and set up an appointment. We think you will be glad you did.

Getting A Dog Is A Commitment

Getting a dog can easily be a 10 to 15-year commitment, so it is imperative that you pick the best breed or mixed breed for your family, and the best individual dog. Selecting the right dog is an important decision and one you should research thoroughly before making a decision. Once you think you have decided on a breed/mixed breed, do lots of reading, talk to pet professionals such as veterinarians, trainers, kennel and daycare owners, and groomers as well as others about your choice. Make sure you ask for both the good and the bad points of a specific breed. No breed is the perfect dog for everybody. Consider the bias people may have when recommending a breed or individual dog. If they are trying to sell you a dog; which is what a breeder, pet store, or shelter/rescue is trying to do, then they may not be giving you sound, objective advice.

Factors You Need To Consider BEFORE You Start Looking For A Dog

  1. Is anyone in your immediate family afraid of dogs? If so, you need to seriously ask yourself if getting a dog is a good idea. Living with a dog is not necessarily going to help the person afraid of dogs and may end up in your having to rehome the dog. That is not fair to the dog.
  2. Is anyone in your family allergic to dogs? If so, spend a significant time around dogs to determine if this will be a problem before you get the dog. Beware of claims by people trying to sell you that they claim is “hypoallergenic.” While some pets shed less and cause less of an allergic reaction than others; I do not believe any breed of pet is truly hypoallergenic. My wife and I are both allergic to dogs and cats, and we cannot imagine a life without pets; however, not everyone is willing or able to put up with allergies.
  3. If you live alone or are the dogs only caregiver, have you considered who will care for your dog if something happens to you? Hopefully, nothing will happen to you, but we do suggest that you have planned ahead of time just in case.
  4. Do all adult family members support the idea of getting a dog? Dogs are not for everyone. They are also very good at reading humans and knowing if someone wants them. We have seen more than one situation where the dog was not welcomed by the entire family, and that does not always change over time. I recommend that everyone be on board with the decision to get a dog.
  5. Will your dog be around children? I am not just asking about your children, but also the children belonging to your neighbors and other family members. Not all dogs will enjoy the company of children. You need to choose both the breed and the individual dog wisely to have the best probability of dogs and children living in harmony.
  6. Will you take your dog to work with you or will they be around your business? Not all dogs enjoy other people and may, in fact, be a liability in your business. Selecting a dog with the right temperament will be very important.
  7. What time of year do you want to bring this new puppy or dog into your family? Depending on where you live and what you do for a living, there are times of the year that are better for getting a dog. The first few months with your new dog will most likely require a significant amount of your time, and you and the rest of the family may need to adjust some priorities, in particular with a Below are some factors to consider.

The end of year holidays – For most people, November and December are the two most hectic months of the year. Most of us celebrate three major holidays, we are invited to more gatherings than average, and children have a wide variety of holiday-related school events. Are you ready to miss some of those events due to a new dog or puppy in the family? A new puppy or a rescue dog, and the latter will most likely also have some behavioral baggage, will need lots of your time, as well as stability, and in many cases quiet. Can you and your family commit to that during the holidays? If not, waiting until January or spring may be a better option for you and your new canine companion.

Housetraining and the weather – if you live in the snow belt, you will need to take the puppy out several times per day for housetraining no matter how cold it is or how hard it is snowing (see http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/02/16/housetraining/). Even though an older dog may be advertised as being housetrained, that is not always the case.  Living in a state that can have harsh winters, I would not get a new dog between November or mid-March.

The summer holidays –  Many people choose to get a new dog, especially a puppy, once the kids are out of school, especially if one of the parents also has the summer off. This can be a very good time to get a new dog, but can also be a recipe for creating a dog with separation issues when everyone disappears during the day come the end of August. If you get a dog during this time of year, make sure that you immediately start teaching them how to cope with being alone (see http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/14/dog-training-preventing-separation-anxiety-teaching-your-dog-to-cope-with-being-alone/)

Family Vacation – This can be a nice time to get a dog if you are planning on staying home. However, if you are going away and traveling, I would postpone getting the dog until you return. The first few months with a dog are important for developing the bond between you and your new friend. If the dog is with you for two to four weeks and then you are gone for two weeks, you may need to spend some extra time rebuilding that bond. I cannot imagine taking a puppy or a rescue dog on vacation immediately after they join my family. As mentioned above, they need stability and consistency the first few months with us. That typically does not occur when you are traveling.

  1. Do you have other dogs in your family? Not all dogs will get along with other dogs. A puppy may be more than an eight-year-old dog wants to handle. They may grow to tolerate or even like each other but will require close supervision until they do.
  2. Do you have other pets in your family? Dogs and cats do not always get along (ask me about Batman and Tikken) and small rodents or chickens often may be very tempting to a dog. Remember your dog is a predator. Some breeds will do better than others around other animals but remember supervision and training will also be important.
  3. Why do you want to get a dog? What will be the dog’s role in your family? Do you want a companion to share your days? Do you want a dog that will be your teammate in dog sports? Do you want a dog that can be a Therapy Dog and bring joy to people in nursing homes? Do you want the dog to go hunting with you, or do you want one or more of these things or something else? Not all dogs will be well suited to all of these tasks and even if their breed suggests that they have a probability of doing well at something, say retrieving, that does not mean that will be the case. Are you ready to accept your dog for whomever they turn out to be?
  4. Who will be the dog’s primary caregiver in your family? If you want your children to take part in caring for the dog, that is fine, but please understand that based on 21 plus years of experience, I am confident that it will be an adult family member who will be providing most of the care for a dog. Children often drive a family’s decision to get a dog, and when I meet with a family for a consultation, I always ask about the children’s extracurricular activities. Today it is not uncommon for a child to be involved in several afterschool activities every week. If your children want a dog, I encourage you to ask them what activities they are willing to give up so that they have time for the dog. If they say they want a dog but are not willing to give up any other activity, it may not be the right time to add a dog to your family.
  5. Do you want a puppy, an adolescent or an older dog? Dogs of any age can become great family members, but there are pros and cons at every age level. The first twelve months of a puppy’s life can keep you quite busy; however, by knowing the breeder and the dog’s parents and having control over their early learning and development, I believe that you have a greater probability of getting what you want when you choose to get a puppy. However, that does depend on you putting in the time and energy to manage and train the dog.

Adolescents, typically the dogs between six months and three years of age often end up being rehomed because of behavior problems. These problems are often the result of inadequate or no socialization and little or no training or inappropriate training. These dogs can become wonderful companions, but you need to be patient and be willing to invest time and love in training and rehabilitating these dogs. Theses dog can be a great deal of work so carefully assess if you have the resources to give them what they need. Loving a dog is seldom enough.

Older dogs, those five and up, often end up in a shelter or rescue due to financial reasons or other family life changes. If the dog has only had one prior family and lived in the house as a companion, they could be a perfect dog for you. Often these dogs have had a basic level of manners training, are housetrained, and are just looking for a home where they can live out their years, getting affection and giving it back. Shed, was adopted when she was five and fit in our family very easily.

  1. Do you want a pure breed, a mutt or a designer breed? Selecting the type or breed of dog to get may be one of the most complicated decisions you will make and also the one with a significant amount of emotional content.
    1. Pure Breed – You are NOT a bad person if you choose to get a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder. I would rather have you get the dog you want than get a dog from a rescue because you have been told that is the “right” thing to do. Paula and I have had both purebreds from breeders and mixed breeds and purebred dogs from rescues. They can all be good However, I have also helped many clients who had a bad experience with a rescue; both with pure breds and mixed breeds, who have since had great experiences by getting the dog they want, not the one friends or family told they must get. Get the dog that you believe will be the best fit for you and your family and do not be swayed by emotion.

If you do choose a pure bred, make sure you thoroughly understand the genetic health issues that they may face as well as some of the human-made features that can affect a dog’s health. Dog breeding is probably one of the longest running examples of genetic engineering, and it has not always ended up benefitting the dog. Due to breeding for certain facial structures, some dogs will be breathing impaired their entire life. Other breeds cannot even breed or deliver puppies naturally.

  1. Mutt/Mixed Breed – The loveable mutt, and yes they can often be quite lovable, is typically the result of an accidental breeding. How did that happen? Well, two
    EPSON DSC picture

    people with dogs were not responsible enough to get their dogs spayed/neutered or to prevent them from breeding. Shed, that five-year-old I mentioned above, was a mixed breed and was delightful; however, it was quite evident from her behavior that she was well cared for and trained from an early age.

The problem with a mixed breed dog is that you never know what you are getting from both a physical and behavioral perspective. For example, let’s say you get a Bassett Hound/German Shepherd mix. These are two breeds with fundamentally different temperaments, and you may not know which will be the predominant personality until you have lived with the dog for a while. It may or may not be the dog you had hoped to have.

Mixed breed puppies can be great if they are properly raised between birth and eight weeks of age but if the owner was not responsible enough to prevent the breeding the likelihood of doing everything else that is necessary for two months with a litter of puppies seems unlikely. Leaving the puppies in the barn with mom until they are eight weeks of age is a disaster waiting to happen.

For years it was presumed that mixed breeds would be healthier due to hybrid vigor. The latest research suggests that is not the case and in fact, mixed breeds are just as likely to have the same health issues as pure breed dogs.

Also, recognize that when a shelter labels a dog as being a certain mix of breeds they are often inaccurate. A recent study indicated that the determination of a dog’s mix of breeds by shelter workers or pet care professionals (veterinarians, trainers, and boarding kennel operators) were wrong 87.5% of the time when compared to DNA testing. The fact is, unless someone saw the actual act of conception, the odds of picking correctly are only 12.5%

  1. Designer Breed – The designer breeds (the Doodles, the various Poo’s, and others) are typically the deliberate breeding of two purebred dogs to create a “designer-breed” that is then often sold for much more than the typical purebred. As the designer breeds have become increasingly popular, breeding them strictly for monetary reasons has become more common; this has never been good for dogs. Some of these designer breeds can be great dogs, but they usually do not have all of the “benefits’ that they are advertised as having. For example; the Labradoodle and Goldendoodle are often promoted as being “non-shedding” or “hypoallergenic.” The Poodle does have a very different coat type from the Labrador or the Golden, but the coats of doodle puppies can vary wildly within the individuals in the same litter. To claim that they are all “non-shedding” or “hypoallergenic” is pure nonsense. As a potential purchaser of one of these dogs, it is also important to understand that very few reputable breeders of purebreds are going to knowingly sell one of their dogs to be used in a designer-breed breeding program. That means that it is possible that these designer-breeds are the offspring of lower quality breeding stock which can have a detrimental effect on both health and temperament. I am not saying never to get a designer-breed, but it is important to understand that when one breeds for physical characteristics, it also can affect temperament, and often in a negative way. This is a case where you will want to physically see both mom and dad and as many generations of this lineage as possible, before committing to a purchasing a puppy.

 

  1. What size dog do you want? – Dogs come in a wide variety of sizes; everything from a 4lbs Teacup Yorkie to a 200lbs+ English Mastiff. If you plan on a life of outdoor activity for you and your dog, especially if you will be hiking off the beaten path, I strongly encourage you to get a dog that you can physically carry from wherever you are to a vehicle. If your dog injures itself out in the middle of nowhere, you may have no other choice. If your physical abilities are limited or if you are just getting older, you need to ask yourself “can I carry my dog up and down the stairs or out to the car?” When our Golden Tikken passed at 16 years of age, my wife and I decided that we needed to “downsize” for our next dog. Tikken only weighed 50lbs, but the last year of her life we had to carry her up and down the stairs, which with bad backs was not always easy nor was it healthy. Our new dog, Muppy, weighs a lean twenty-five pounds.

Size also play a role in other ways. Big dogs eat more which will affect your wallet, and they will also leave larger deposits for you to clean up in the yard. Caring for a large dog can also end up costing you more at the veterinarian and the groomer.

Within the specific breeds, there are those breeding for incredibly tiny or gigantic dogs. Often these dogs also have extremes in temperament and health issues. If the words “Teacup” or “Giant” are affixed to a breed you are considering, talk to several professionals, knowledgeable about dogs and not trying to sell you a dog, about the pros and cons of getting a dog of unusual size.

Lastly, large dogs tend to have shorter lifespans than small dogs. One of the hardest things about owning a dog is knowing that they will probably pass before you, and no matter how many times you experience a dog’s death, it never becomes easier.

  1. What type of coat do you want? – Dogs come in a wide variety of coat Everything from the short-haired easy to maintain Beagle to the long coated dogs like the Samoyed, Rough-coat Collie and of course the elaborately groomed Poodle. No matter what breed you choose, you will need to spend time brushing them at least once a week. The longer haired breeds will require much more time and effort and more frequent brushing. In some cases, dogs will require professional grooming every 4 to 6 weeks in addition to the brushing you do at home. That needs to be considered when you look at the expense of owning a dog.
  2. Do you have the resources necessary to care for a dog properly? – Living with a dog and caring for it takes time and money. A dog needs to be trained when you first get them, and training does not stop until they have passed away. They will minimally require an annual trip to the veterinarian as well as annual licensing. On a daily basis, they will need to be fed, exercised, taken out to go to the bathroom several times, and provided with adequate mental stimulation and companionship. Depending on their coat type a dog will also need to be brushed, bathed and have their nails trimmed on a regular basis. They may require annual teeth cleaning at your veterinarians, and you really should consider brushing their teeth daily. If you go away, and cannot take your dog with you, you may also need to consider the cost of boarding your dog or hiring a pet sitter. If you are already limited on time or if you need to watch your budget closely, it may not be the right time for a dog.
  3. Are you prepared to travel to see the dog you want? – No matter if you choose a purebred or mixed breed, breeder or rescue, you may need to travel to get the dog you want. We have clients that have driven 12 hours north into Canada and flown to Texas to get the dog they desired. Others have had dogs flown over from Europe and elsewhere. If you follow only one of the recommendations I suggest, please let it be this one: NEVER purchase a dog or a puppy without seeing it in person first. Over the years we have had far too many clients that have been sent dogs with severe health or behavioral issues, or in some cases, they were sent a totally different dog than the one they saw online. This has happened with both breeders and rescues. In some of these cases, these breeders/rescues then made it very costly or next to impossible for the client to return the dog.

Where Will I Get the Dog I Want?

When looking for a source for a puppy, you will typically go to a breeder if you want a pure bred dog or a shelter/rescue if you are looking for either a purebred or mixed breed dog. I have listed the traits you will want to look for in these two sources.

Reputable Breeders

A reputable breeder will typically only breed one or two litters a year. The best breeders will have committed homes for their puppies before the mother is ever bred and therefore will probably have waiting lists. They will not need to advertise in the newspaper or put up signs along the side of the road nor will they give their puppies away to be auctioned off at a fundraising benefit.

They will typically only breed one or at most two breeds of dogs.

They will not breed adult dogs until they are at least 2 to 3 years old. Many health and temperament issues will not be apparent in a dog until it is at least two years of age.

A bitch will not be bred more than once per year.

They will discuss in detail, with anyone interested in their puppies, the health issues affecting their breed. They should be able to provide documents from a veterinarian certifying that the parents and at least two previous generations are free of any of these health issues. Common health issues with many purebred dogs include hip dysplasia, central progressive retinal atrophy, subvalvular aortic stenosis, and others. For more information on breed specific health concerns you can check the Canine Inherited Disorders Database maintained by the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association at http://www.upei.ca/cidd/intro.htm.

Educate yourself about these genetic health issues before visiting any breeders, and rather than bring them up with the breeder, see if they tell you about them first. If they fail to do so, you may want to consider a different breeder.

Also, understand that you can choose the best breeder, who is doing everything right, and these genetic disorders can occur in a puppy. That is just the nature of genetics. While this may be unlikely to happen, I would encourage you to have a discussion with the breeder in advance, so you understand their policies if this should occur.

Ask the breeder what type of temperament they see in their dogs and how that affects their breeding program. Since most dogs in the US are pets and companions, the best breeders will focus on breeding dogs with a sound, friendly temperament. If the breeder focuses on working dogs (protection, field trials, tracking, livestock guarding, and herding), their dogs may not have the best temperament to be a family companion. Working dog breeders may have puppies that the breeder believes are not suitable for the job they were bred for, which they will then sell as “pets.” That does not mean that they will have an ideal temperament to be a family dog.

The best breeders will raise the puppies in their home along with the adult dogs and their human family. They will not be raised in isolation in a basement or another building.

The best breeders will keep the puppies with their mother until they are ready to go to their new homes and will also hopefully have other adult dogs that are allowed to interact with the puppies appropriately. From four to eight weeks of age is when a puppy learns how to interact with its species. If they are deprived of this opportunity, they are more likely to have issues with other dogs in the future. If the mother is not a good parent and abandons the puppies, then the breeder needs to find another mother dog to take her place.

The size of the litter is also important. A singleton pup (a litter of one) will miss out on many learning opportunities without other puppies in the litter. Ideally, the breeder should place this pup in another litter with a mother and other pups.

The best breeders will allow you to see both parents so that you can evaluate their health, behavior, and temperament. If the mother has been artificially inseminated, they will put you in contact with the breeder that owns the stud and the best breeders will have a video of the stud so you can observe his behavior. Being informed about both parents temperament is crucial, as studies have indicated that if either parent is shy, anxious, or timid, then the puppies will also have this temperament Behaviors that have a genetic basis typically do not change or get better.

The best breeders actively socialize the puppies before letting them go home with you. Socialization should start at four weeks of age and continue until it is legal to sell the puppy at eight weeks of age. Specifically, you will want to ask them how many children, men, women, and non-family members have gently handled, trained, and played with the pups daily. The best breeders will have this documented in a daily journal.

The best breeders will not suggest you get multiple puppies at the same time, but will in fact actively discourage you from getting more than one.

The best breeders will offer a written contract with health guarantees that also offers to take the puppy back, at any time, for any reason. State laws may require a breeder to provide you with certain legal documents at the time of the sale. Make sure you know what these documents are so that you can make sure that the seller provides them.

The best breeders will begin housetraining the puppies, and the puppies will have a designated housetraining area within the space where the puppies are confined. Be wary of breeders that keep puppies in rooms covered in newspaper or other materials where the puppies are urinating and defecating anywhere and everywhere in the room. You should only see piles and puddles in the designated housetraining area, and if the breeder has an adequate cleaning schedule, there should be very few of those. The best breeders will start crate training the puppies, in an airline style crate, before sending them to their new homes.

Ask how the breeder feeds the puppies. We recommend that they give each puppy their own bowl rather than feeding all of the puppies from a single communal bowl. Over the years we have seen puppies for severe resource guarding, and food aggression behaviors and a communal bowl seems to be a common thread with these puppies.

The best breeders will ask you lots of questions about why you want a puppy, why you want this particular breed, and how you will care for the puppy. They will want to verify that you have time for the puppy, that you will enroll it in a reward based training class, and have a yard and home suitable for the puppies exercise needs. They will ask you for references. They will often require a fenced yard.

The best breeders will discuss the advantages of spaying/neutering your puppy and if it is not suitable for breeding will require that you have the puppy spayed/neutered.

The best breeders will be licensed as a breeding kennel if the state where they live is wise enough to require breeders to be licensed. When you find a breeder, call the agency responsible for licensing breeders and verify that the breeder is licensed and ask if any complaints have been filed against the breeder. In Maine, breeding kennels are licensed by the state Animal Welfare Program, and they can be reached at 1-877-269-9200.

Ask the breeder how they train their dogs and what types of tools and methods they use and what they recommend for their puppies. In 2015 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued a document entitled 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. This document discusses the prevalence of behavioral problems in dogs and cats and recommends:

“This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem-solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, wraps, and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors.“ [Emphasis added]

I recommend that you avoid any breeder that recommends or uses any of the aversive techniques that the AAHA has outlined in their guidelines.

 

Humane Societies/Shelters/Rescues

Dogs that end up in a shelter or rescue are typically strays or have been surrendered by someone locally because they can no longer care for the dog or no longer want the dog. Dogs are surrendered for a variety of reasons, including finances, where someone lives, or health issues. Surrendering a dog is hard for most people and as such the reasons they give may not always be entirely accurate, nor are their descriptions of the dog’s behavior. They might paint a picture of a wild, crazy dog to make themselves look better or that of a mild, easy-going dog to increase the dog’s chances of adoption. Bottom line, the information on the dog may not always be accurate.

Often shelters have little or no information about strays. Dulcie, one of our Cairn Terriers, was a stray, so we had little information about her when she became part of our family.

Some shelters and rescues are also bringing in dogs from out of state, typically from the south. These dogs may be surrenders or strays, but often the quality of information about them is not very high. I have mixed feelings about bringing in dogs from out of state. In full disclosure, our newest dog Muppy came here from Mississippi. Muppy has been a great dog for us, but we did meet her in person before we adopted her and I also asked the Maine rescue some very pointed questions before we did adopt. Specifically, I wanted to know what the rescue was doing to stop the overpopulation problem in the south. This Rescue, Canine Commitment of Maine (now Helping Paws Maine), is helping to fund mobile spay/neuter services in Mississippi. Not all rescues are doing things like that, and some of the groups down south have discovered it is very lucrative to sell dogs and puppies to us folks up north. They are essentially puppy mills without the breeding program, so buyer beware.

The best shelters and rescues will give all dogs that they adopt a thorough veterinary exam, will spay and neuter them and will make sure they are current on all necessary vaccinations before they ever leave the facility. Before adopting a dog from the south, verify its heartworm status. Heartworm is endemic in many parts of the south, and it is unlikely that a rescue dog was on a heartworm preventative.

Many shelters and rescues will also give dogs a temperament test to determine what type of home would be best for a dog or to assess whether the dog is even safe to adopt. Sadly some dogs end up at shelters due to aggression issues; facts that those surrendering the dog failed to disclose. What you need to understand about temperament tests is that they are not a guarantee. Not all people performing the tests have the same level of skill and experience. A temperament test is also only a snapshot of what a dog’s temperament was like at a specific movement in time. When you consider the fact that a dog in a shelter/rescue situation is under a great deal of stress, it is not unusual at all for a dog to act very differently after they have been in your home for a couple of weeks. Sometimes it may take a couple of months before you see a rescued dog’s true Because of this, the value of temperament testing by shelters is being questioned.

Puppies may end up at a shelter because someone left them in a box in front of the door; in which case you will know very little about those puppies. A shelter may also have puppies available because a pregnant mom was surrendered. In those cases, the best shelter will find a foster home for the mom, where she will live until she has the puppies and they have been weaned and are available for adoption. The same requirements for raising those puppies during that time frame are the same as those that apply to a breeder.

The foster parents will raise the puppies in their home along with the mom and their human family. They will not be raised in isolation in a basement or another building.

They will keep the puppies with their mother until they are ready to be returned to the shelter at eight weeks of age and will also hopefully have other adult dogs that are allowed to interact with the puppies appropriately. From four to eight weeks of age is when a puppy learns how to interact with its species. If they are deprived of this opportunity, they are more likely to have issues with other dogs in the future. If the mother is not a good parent and abandons the puppies, then the foster parent needs to find another dog mother to take her place.

The size of the litter is also important. A singleton pup (a litter of one) will miss out on many learning opportunities without other puppies in the litter. Ideally, the breeder should place this pup in another litter with a mother and other pups.

Studies have indicated that if either parent is shy/anxious timid the puppies will also have this temperament trait. Behaviors that have a genetic basis typically do not change or get better. Unfortunately, when you adopt a puppy from a shelter, it is seldom that you will even know who the father was and possibly may know nothing about the mother. In other words, they have less information on which to assess what the pup’s behavior might be like as an adult.

The shelter/rescue/foster parent should actively socialize the puppies before letting them go home with people. Socialization should start at four weeks of age and continue until it is legal to sell the puppy at eight weeks of age. Specifically, you will want to ask them how many children, men, women, and non-family members have gently handled, trained, and played with the pups daily. The puppy raisers should have this documented in a daily journal.

They will begin housetraining the puppies, and the puppies will have a designated housetraining area within the space where the puppies are confined. Be aware of shelters that keep puppies in rooms covered in newspaper or other materials where the puppies are urinating and defecating anywhere and everywhere in the room. You should only see piles and puddles in the designated housetraining area, and if the shelter has an adequate cleaning schedule, there should be very few of those. The best shelters will start crate training the puppies, in an airline style crate, before sending them to their new homes.

Ask how they feed the puppies. We recommend that they give each puppy their own bowl rather than feeding all of the puppies from a single communal bowl. Over the years we have seen puppies for severe resource guarding, and food aggression behaviors and a communal bowl seems to be a common thread.

No reputable shelter/rescue will suggest you get multiple puppies at the same time, but will in fact actively discourage you from getting more than one and may not allow you to get more than one.

A reputable shelter/rescue will offer to take a dog back, at any time, for any reason. They should never make you feel guilty about returning a dog or make it difficult to do so. A client of ours adopted an adult dog from a rescue which they quickly discovered was aggressive towards children. The dog’s aggressive behavior not been disclosed by the rescue. The rescue begrudgingly agreed to take the dog back but told the client it would be as long as six weeks before they had a foster home available. Before you adopt from a rescue or shelter, make sure you have their return policies in writing.

A shelter/rescue may ask you lots of questions about why you want a dog, why you want this particular dog, and how you will care for the dog. They will want to verify that you have time for the dog, and may require you to enroll it in a reward based training class. Many shelters/rescue will ask for references and may even do a home visit. They will often require a fenced yard. If you have other dogs, they will require that your dogs meet the new dog before adopting.

Some shelters work with trainers and behavior consultants to help prepare dogs for adoption. Make sure that they are only working with trainers committed to Force-Free, reward based training. Preferably these trainers will be members of The Pet Professionals Guild and certified as a Professional Canine Trainer (PCT-A) by the Pet Professional Accreditation Board (http://www.credentialingboard.com/), or certified as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (http://www.ccpdt.org/) or credentialed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (https://iaabc.org/) as a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC).

Ask the Shelter/Rescue how they train their dogs and what types and tools they use and what they recommend for training. In 2015 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) issued a document entitled 2015 American Animal Hospital Association Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines. This document discusses the prevalence of behavioral problems in dogs and cats and recommends:

This Task Force opposes training methods that use aversive techniques. Aversive training has been associated with detrimental effects on the human–animal bond, problem solving ability, and the physical and behavioral health of the patient. It causes problem behaviors in normal animals and hastens progression of behavioral disorders in distressed animals. Aversive techniques are especially injurious to fearful and aggressive patients and often suppress signals of impending aggression, rendering any aggressive dog more dangerous.

Aversive techniques include prong (pinch) or choke collars, cattle prods, alpha rolls, dominance downs, electronic shock collars, lunge whips, starving or withholding food, entrapment, and beating. None of those tools and methods should be used to either teach or alter behavior. Nonaversive techniques rely on the identification and reward of desirable behaviors and on the appropriate use of head collars, harnesses, toys, remote treat devices, wraps, and other force-free methods of restraint. This Task Force strongly endorses techniques that focus on rewarding correct behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors.“ [Emphasis added]

I recommend that you avoid any Shelter or Rescue that recommends or uses any of the aversive techniques that the AAHA has outlined in their guidelines. I would also avoid them if they refer to trainers that use those techniques.

A reputable shelter/rescue will be licensed as a shelter/rescue in the state of Maine. When you find a shelter/rescue, call the Maine Animal Welfare Program and verify that they are licensed and ask if any complaints have been filed about their practices. The phone number for the AWP is 1-877-269-9200.

Lastly, understand that most shelters and rescues are non-profits and may ask for donations. That is fine as long as they are legitimate non-profits; however, not all have filed the necessary paperwork required for their non-profit status to be legal. Why is that important? It is important to make sure that the money you are donating is being put to good use. In 2013, an individual representing a rescue group in our area was arrested and convicted of embezzling over $100,000 from the group. That is a great deal of money that never went to helping rescued dogs. A place you can check on any non-profit organization is http://www.charitynavigator.org/ and http://www.guidestar.org/.

If you need assistance or advice in finding the perfect dog for your family, do not hesitate to contact us. We want to help you find the best dog for you and your lifestyle.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

 

Accepting the Pet You Havehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/11/26/accepting-the-pet-you-have/

A Rescue Dogs Perspective – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/01/04/dog-training-a-rescue-dogs-perspective/

Adopting/Getting A Pet – Before You Adopt A Dog…http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/01/adoptinggetting-a-pet-before-you-adopt-a-dog/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

<Click on the title to listen to the show>

Maine’s Puppy Lemon Law and Your Rights As A Consumer – While getting a new pet usually goes very well, occasionally people have a bad experience when purchasing a new pet. This can happen when getting a pet from a pet store, a breeder, and even when getting a pet from a shelter or rescue. In this show, we address consumer’s legal alternatives when things do not go as you wanted.

Selecting A Pet Care Provider – How to choose a dog trainer – Kate, and Don discuss what to look for when choosing a dog trainer and dog training class, as well as what to avoid. Dog training and recommended approaches to training a dog have changed dramatically as we have learned more about canines. As a result, we now know that some long-standing methods used to train a dog in the past, are in fact detrimental and can cause serious, long-term harm to your dog. Learn what to look for so that you and your dog have the best experience possible.

The benefits of training your dog and 2017 Training Classes at Green Acres – Kate and Don discuss why training a dog is so beneficial to all involved; the dog, the dog’s immediate family, and society in general. They discuss the advantages of working with a certified professional dog trainer so that you have someone that can coach both you and your dog when things are not going as expected. Additionally, they discuss why choosing a trainer that is committed to pain-free, force-free and fear-free training is so important. Lastly, they discuss the training classes that will be offered at Green Acres Kennel Shop in 2017.

Pet Behavior, Vets & The AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines with Dr. Dave Cloutier from Veazie Veterinary Clinic – In this week’s show Kate, Don and Dr. Dave Cloutier of the Veazie Veterinary Clinic discuss the American Animal Hospital Associations (AAHA) new guidelines on behavior management for dogs and cats. This groundbreaking document represents the first time that a major veterinary organization has addressed pet behavior. According to the guidelines “More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering.” Tune in and learn why behavior is so important and why a behavioral assessment should be part of every pet’s annual wellness exam.

Dr. Cloutier, Kate, and Don discuss reasons for an increase in behavior problems, and how these problems can best be addressed. Dr. Cloutier explains changes he and his colleagues have made to work towards free-free visits for their clients. We address serious behavioral problems such as separation anxiety and aggression as well as nuisance behaviors like jumping, barking, and counter surfing. We address how veterinarians and dog trainers can work together and why it is essential to focus on rewarding desired behaviors and removing rewards for unwanted behaviors. Lastly, we review the guidelines recommendations on refraining from using any training methods that use aversive techniques such as electronic shock collars, choke collars, prong collars, alpha-rollovers, and other things that work by causing fear, intimidation, force, discomfort or pain.

Web Sites

Canine Inherited Disorders Databasehttp://www.upei.ca/cidd/intro.htm

Maine Animal Welfare Programhttp://www.maine.gov/dacf/ahw/animal_welfare/

The Pet Professional Accreditation Boardhttp://www.credentialingboard.com/

The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultantshttps://iaabc.org/

The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainershttp://www.ccpdt.org/

Charity Navigatorhttp://www.charitynavigator.org/

Guidestarhttp://www.guidestar.org/

Professional Pet Care Associations

The Pet Professional Guildhttp://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

The Association of Professional Dog Trainershttps://apdt.com/

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©15-Jan-17, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>